MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama State hadn’t beaten Grambling State since 2014. That losing streak ended Saturday night as the Hornets (2-2, 1-0) defeated the Tigers (0-4, 0-1) 23-20 in ASU Stadium.
Two key missed field goals from Grambling State as well as resiliency and determination from Alabama State was the story of the game. The lead changed six times throughout the course of the game, with Alabama State battling back from deficits of four, three, and three to overcome their losing skid to their SWAC opponent.
ASU got on the board first after a Hunter Hanson 32-yard field goal in the game’s opening quarter. Grambling State took the lead as the quarter was coming to a close on a 6-yard touchdown run from Keilon Elder.
Jacroy Merritt did the honors of putting the Hornets back ahead with a 4-yard touchdown run of his own in the second quarter. Grambling State answered with a field goal to tie the game at 10 just before the half.
The Tigers received the second half kick and took a three-point lead after Garrett Urban knocked through his second field goal of the game. Alabama State countered on the game’s next possession. KHA’Darris Davis threw a perfectly-thrown pass that was matched by a spectacular catch by Jeremiah Hixon for 23 yards to give the lead back to the Hornets.
Losing streaks are hard to break, especially to one of the better teams in the conference, and Saturday night proved that. Grambling was unfazed by the ASU score as they would answer towards the end of the third quarter. Geremy Hickbottom found Lyndon Rash for 15 yards and a touchdown to jump back out ahead for the game’s fifth lead change.
Trailing 20-17 going into the final 15 minutes, Donald Hill-Eley’s Hornets wasted hardly any time. With just under 9:55 left in the game, they took the lead back for good. Davis led a strong drive that ended with Davis scoring from 1-yard out. The extra point was blocked, which could’ve proved critical had Urban not missed the game-tying attempt with 6:07 to play.
Alabama State was able to run the clock out thanks to a huge penalty on Grambing’s Anfernee Mullins. A personal foul penalty gave ASU an automatic first down and all but ensured an end to their losing streak. The Hornets would kneel the clock out after that to seal the win and do away with any bad juju following them.
On top of Saturday’s win snapping the streak, it also gave the Hornets a win in their conference opener and gives them a boost heading into the bye week. ASU is back in action next Oct. 5 against Alcorn State. It’ll be the final home game before ASU goes on the road for the next five weeks.